The “will they, won’t they” suspense ended Tuesday with the government introducing a Bill to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament. BRS leader K Kavitha called it a “first positive step”, adding that the ruling BJP at the Centre had promised it twice in its manifesto, in 2014 and again in 2019.
The Telangana leader also spotlighted the “cloak of secrecy” behind the Bill since Monday night. The Bill was cleared in the cabinet meet last night, said sources, but there was no official announcement by the government.
“I believe this is the first positive step. There are many technical issues which have to be cleared. This government had promised it twice in its manifesto. So after nine and a half years, they have come to this understanding and kept the Bill,” K Kavitha told NDTV.
The quota can be implemented only after the first delimitation or redrawing of constituencies after the Bill becomes law, according to details exclusively accessed by NDTV. Constituencies will be redrawn only after the next Census, which is likely in 2027.
“Now, what will happen to delimitation, when will it come into existence, etc, all this has to be explained by the government. The kind of secretive cloak that they are using since last night, breaking it on TV, not mentioning it in Parliament, undertaking no briefing after the cabinet meet, we are all a little apprehensive. But yet at the same time hopeful. Only one positive thing about this government is that they have a huge majority. They can do anything. They can get this Bill passed. So that is the only hope,” she said.
The six-page Bill says a third of seats in Lok Sabha and assemblies will be reserved for women and filled by direct election. Also, the quota will not apply to Rajya Sabha or state Legislative Councils. Within the quota, a third of the seats will be for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Asked about what will happen in the Rajya Sabha where the government does not have a majority, the BRS leader underlined that the government has managed to push through Bills with the support of other parties.
“In Rajya Sabha, they managed to push many Bills with the support of parties like BJD, YSRCP and on an issue like this the Congress will support, the BRS will support. Every other party will support. Most probably, the parties that objected earlier also now have said that they are fundamentally not against it, but we want certain things to be changed and amended,” she said.
The Bill does not include reservation for OBCs (Other Backward Classes), as such a provision does not exist for the legislature. This was the demand over which parties like the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) opposed the women’s quota Bill for decades.
“They should have taken the Opposition into confidence first and then introduced the bill. But then they did not do that. Yet, I am hopeful for only one reason: because it is a long pending justified demand of the women of this nation. In whatever manner it gets passed first then I think the kind of amendments that can be asked for can also be asked for in the Rajya Sabha. Then it can again come back to the Lok Sabha. So the parliamentary processes can take care of the gaps,” she added.
She said the Bill got lapsed last time because of the objections raised by the OBC community and wished that nothing like that should happen again while at the same time agreeing with the demands of the OBC community.